Cisco, with WebEx, delicately moves to ‘instrument’ employees — without violating privacy

Editor’s note: Cisco is a client of the author.

This week’s big event was Cisco Live, a virtual affair that focused on analysts and reporters as the company showcased  WebEx and the related 400+ improvements implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The past year has forced companies to re-think videoconferencing offerings like WebEx, which went from occasional use to general — often daily — use, allowing remote employees to connect. Three products rose to the top: Microsoft Teams (Microsoft is also a client), Zoom, and WebEx. 

What made the WebEx effort stand out was a heavy influence by Francine Katsoudas. She runs Cisco’s HR department and has the unique title of Chief People, Policy and Purpose Officer. 

Let’s talk about why this integration with HR is critically important to the future of many collaborative products. 

The critical need to ‘instrument’ employees

There were a number of surprising positives to working from home. People had more time because they didn’t have to commute; productivity rose in the companies I deal with; and the pandemic forced major overhauls of videoconferencing software that has historically underperformed their potential for travel replacement. But their were downsides, too. Work/life balance was an issue for many; some people felt out of touch and isolated; many employees reported focus and depression problems; and managers struggled with being remote. 

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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